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Big things have the power to make real the stuff of dreams. They have the power to make us stop at places we would never have dreamed of visiting. Grand kitsch is both art and beyond.
Published December 1995
Exhibition review Active Agents: Aids Art in Australia
Anthony Babicci, Bronwyn Bancroft, Simon Carver, Eddie Hackenberg, Ian Hartley, Leonore Lancaster, David McDiarmid, Ross Moore, Marcus O'Donnell, Scott Redford, Celia Roach, Gary Shinfield, Jackie Stockdale, Andrew Thomas-Clark, Hiram To, Julia Topliss, John Turner, David Urquart
Curators Jill Bennett and John Turner
University Gallery, University of Tasmania, Launceston
11 May - 9 June 1995
Exhibition review Birds Have Fled
Univsersity of South Australia Art Museum
7 September - 2 October 1995
Kitsch is a kind of creole. It quotes and mixes references from quite unrelated sources, dresses in wildly unsuitable materials, then tries to insinuate itself using childhood wiles.
That these same institutions have never seriously attempted to digest the great crafty, feminine art of traditional cake decoration is more regrettable. Icons, after all, are as valued as the most avant-garde compostion if made of oil paint and gold leaf on wood. When future generations visit our hallowed aesthetic halls, let them meet cake!
Examines the 1995 poster for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. How appropriate though, at the moment when Mardi Gras had successfully commodified itself as a cultural event, that its key representation should be through international glamour product photography.
Although well known in regional art histories, Western Australian sculptor Edward Kohler has a far wider importance. Economic survival led him to blend popular and high art long before it was standard practice. With the Piccadilly Theatre reliefs of 1938, the sheer exuberance and infectious quality of a positive (if unconscious) kitsch aesthetic entered professional Australian art 60 years ago: Hollywood meets Olympia.
Exhibition review Forrest Place During the Time of the Fly Plague and Other Paintings 1993-1995
Perth Western Australia
...But the Mardi Gras will always be a child of the seventies. Remember that mantra 'the personal is political'. In spite of the co-option and mainstreaming of Lesbian and Gay culture this wonderful spectacularly amateurish display (of difference) cannot help but be a politicised intervention.
Exhibition review Defrosting Familiar Tales
Jo Crawford, Bev Hogg
Jam Factory Gallery
Adelaide South Australia
7 July - 27 August 1995
You can hear her on the radio and see her on the television and contemplate her in better State galleries. Pluralist par excellence, artist, writer and film-maker Destiny Deacon has been blazing away on visual and linguistic fronts since premiering 'Koori Rocks Gub Words' in 'Pitcha Mi Koori' (1990).
Australians have a natural thirst for objects of grand scale, however ridiculous their theme or location or context. From big sandfly, big axe to big oyster and beyond, we are the big desert island that experiences big wets and big dries, little wonder someone made a Big Tap to remind us...we are big drinkers.